Give Day Reaches ‘Greater Heights,’ Tops $4 Million

Event Among Most Successful Ever

Group of people wearing Give Day shirts pose for photo with Gunrock
Staff generated excitement for Give Day at Picnic Day with Gunrock’s help. (Kristina Lugo/UC Davis)

The theme for this year’s Give Day, “Reaching Greater Heights,” proved to be prophetic as the eighth-annual event was one of the most successful ever. With more than 4,700 online and in-person donations, the annual event brought in more than $4.1 million, blowing past the nearly $3.4 million raised in 2023. 


For a second year in a row, Development and Alumni Relations employees (with Gunrock in tow) drove around campus in cow-themed decorated golf carts — “Fund-Grazers” — to create buzz for the event on campus. Meanwhile, online donations from alumni, friends, faculty, staff, students, business and community partners, and others, poured in from 46 states and 11 countries for the event held in conjunction with Picnic Day.

Living up to its name 

“Give Day lived up to its theme this year by truly reaching greater heights,” said Shaun Keister, vice chancellor of Development and Alumni Relations, the division responsible for Give Day. “We have developed a real culture of philanthropy across UC Davis, UC Davis Health and beyond — and Give Day exemplifies this culture and spirit of support.”

As in years past, challenge gifts got the ball rolling by amplifying the impact of donation dollars. Each challenge asks for a specified number of contributions of any size to a particular program — and, when the threshold is met, the donor or donors behind the challenge “unlock” a larger gift.  

The start of Give Day 2024 was marked by 214 challenge gifts totaling nearly $3 million, a notable increase of more than $500,000 compared to the total value of challenge gifts last year, when there were also 214.

"By unleashing a ripple effect of generosity, challenge gifts demonstrate the profound impact that can be achieved when we all come together,” Keister said. “Chancellor Gary S. May and LeShelle May’s generous sponsorship of their own challenge gift this year underscores the unity and dedication of our leadership community at UC Davis.” 

The Chancellor’s Student Impact Challenge, sponsored by the Mays, asked current UC Davis students to help the pair decide where to donate $10,000 across four categories: student success; student emergency and basic needs; Athletics and club sports; and STEM. 

The winners of the Chancellor’s Student Impact Challenge (each will receive $2,500) are as follows: Student Start Up Center Fund, Student Emergency Relief Aid Fund, Lacrosse Development Fund, and a tie (each will receive $1,250) between Space and Satellite Systems Club and American Society of Civil Engineers Support.

Beneficiaries of donations raised during Give Day ranged from scholarships, research and emergency funds to innovative experiential learning projects and more, touching every school and college and most units across UC Davis and UC Davis Health.

Battle tested

The “Battle of the Colleges” to see which college raised the most gifts saw the College of Engineering come in first place for a second year in a row with a whopping 484 gifts — topping the College of Biological Sciences, which came in second place with 297 gifts. The School of Veterinary Medicine took the crown in the “Battle of the Schools” for a second year straight with 456 gifts — besting the School of Law, which came in second with 180 gifts. 

Media Resources

Bryan Anthony is a senior writer for the Annual and Special Gifts Program in the Office of Development and Alumni Relations, and can be reached by email or phone, 530-754-0482.

Primary Category